Worn and creased with tell tale signs from years of use and caring attention, a vintage bag is something to enjoy, nurture and reflect upon how it may have spent its past. Of course brand new purses or leather bags have their own attractions, be they bold colours, a fresh new smell or pristine clasps and buckles, but bags that carry the vintage label have a whole lot more. They have seen the world, spent time with other people, been with them through happy times and sad, and accompanied them on holidays or to special events. So when you buy a vintage bag you are not just acquiring an inanimate item, you are connecting yourself to times gone by, to events in history, to something a whole lot more interesting.
As with most new bags, a vintage bag is normally bought with a purpose in mind. It might become the chosen item due to its practicalities, things that are going to make it the perfect complement to a day at work. Or it could be a special look that will make it the ideal companion on a night out to the theatre or to a restaurant. In the same way, its original owner could also have bought a vintage bag with a purpose in mind, but that function could easily switch for any new owner. That practical, functional bag may now be the perfect embodiment of the new owner’s character. They could be a no-nonsense, sensible person who is happy enough to exhibit their economic tendencies in selecting a pre-owned item and reusing it. Or it may be a bag exhibiting the glitz and glamour of times past and will still fulfil the same purpose today.
These vintage bags fall into all kinds of categories that divide them up by age or function, by material or usage, by heritage and design. You might have vintage leather evening purses and fabric bags or retro luggage and suitcases. The combinations are almost infinite, but the categories serve as a means of tracking down the exact bag required. Day bags, evening bags or works bags are some of the functional categories, while leather bags is almost certainly the most common material denominator, although straw is another favourite. Then there are clutch bags, handbags or shoulder bags plus sports bags and shopping bags. Just imagine a shelf full of each of these variants in a vintage clothing store and you could easily find a substantial section of the store containing hundreds of different bags – not unlike a modern department store today you might say.
But although one of the differences between new and retro is often price, with older bags being normally more affordable, that doesn’t always mean you will spend less acquiring a vintage bag. Like many second-hand vintage items, the older status and lower price just means to can normally acquire something much better for your money than with new items. Designer labels may now enter your price range, and that iconic Chanel handbag clasp may no longer be just a dream.
So before you head for the high street chains and follow the crowds to the bag departments, visit a vintage store or browse their sites online. You just never know where that cherished vintage bag you always wanted might appear.
Carrying any of the many classic vintage bags
can set you apart and for much less than a new equivalent bag would cost. Searching the nation's vintage clothing
stores has helped Rosie understand exactly why they are so sought after. She has seen the best and explains what to look for and why to buy.